No matter what stage in the sales process you hear “no” from a prospective B2B customer, it can be frustrating. A contact hangs up during the first call, a prospect might have a deal-breaking concern halfway through your discovery call, or what you thought was a “done deal” throws you a curveball at the last second.
As difficult as each situation is, there is valuable information to glean, record, and utilize. Your sales team will benefit and be able to turn these perceived negative situations into very positive, actionable results for your company.
Phase 1 - Determine Fit
The first stage is determining whether a prospect is a “fit” for your target client program. You determine this by asking high-level fit questions that provide insight into the company’s current positioning.
Uncovering the fit is essential for establishing whether the prospect is worth pursuing, or whether the collected information should simply be recorded in your marketing database before moving on to other prospects.
If you determine that a prospective client is not a fit for your program, it is not a loss. It is an opportunity to use that intelligent data - or ProData as we refer to it - to better target future clients, understand the nuances of the market, and save money by no longer marketing toward prospects who fall in the same category.
Understanding why a client is not a fit this early in the sales process will save your sales team lost hours and resources. If you do not take the time to determine fit and try to hurry to “need,” your salespeople could spend valuable sales time chasing the wrong clients. That will ultimately hurt your bottom line by reducing your close rates and negatively impacting your sales productivity metrics.
Conversely, if you determine the prospect company fits the qualifying requirements, you can advance with confidence to the next phase of evaluating the client’s interest and need for your solution.
Phase 2 - Evaluate Interest & Needs
At this stage of the prospecting process, you want to create awareness for your product or solution. And, since your sales team is armed with valuable data about the prospective client, your sales team should be able to capitalize on that prospect intelligence if there is clear interest and need.
The B2B prospect could have an opportunity to grow their business, and they need a product to help them achieve scale. Or, they could be faced with a recurring problem that is slowing their growth and opening the door to competitors, so they need a solution. Since your sales team knows the client’s situation, they can provide a custom program to meet their unique needs.
But, some clients might stall out at this phase of the sales funnel. They might be interested in your product or solution, but they are not yet convinced they need what your company is offering. Or, the timing simply is not right because they just made a major investment elsewhere in the company.
Hearing “no” at this stage is not a loss. It is another opportunity to add valuable data to your company’s marketing database. And, because you already uncovered their “fit” for your product or solution, this prospect still has significant value to the organization and can be enrolled in a lead nurturing program.
A lead nurturing program will allow your product or solution to stay top-of-mind in anticipation of when circumstances change. Then, you can remind the prospective client of what you are offering. At a later time, their awareness of your product might lead to interest and eventually need.
Conversely, if the conversation with a prospective client leads to a “yes” for interest and need, then you are ready to advance the company to an appointment.
Phase 3 - Promote to Sales Appointment Team
Now that the prospective company has been qualified for need, you can promote them to the sales appointment setting team. There is a high probability of generating a sales appointment from these actionable leads where your sales representative will meet with influencers and perhaps the ultimate decision-maker at the company.
Because you have laid the foundation for the meeting by uncovering fit, creating awareness, generating interest, and establishing need, your sales representative will walk into the meeting with confidence that there is potential to close a deal with this prospect.
But, in the event that the client stalls out at this phase, it is not a total loss. It might feel like a loss because you advanced to what you thought was a “sure thing.” But, the client might not have the available budget, they may have decided to go with a competitor that is offering a similar product or solution, or you found out that your offering does not work for the company.
As always, record this valuable information in your sales and marketing database to help with future prospecting opportunities. But, you can still turn a “loss” into a “win,” even at this advanced stage.
- Offer an alternative product to better match your prospective client’s need. Perhaps the product or solution you initially offered is not the right fit for the company, but you have another deliverable that might be a better fit.
- Suggest a business partner the client can utilize. Perhaps the client chose a competitor to provide the same product or solution that you were offering. You could suggest using a partner to enhance the deliverable. That way, you look good to the client by offering an additional service even though you lost the deal. Also, your business partner will look to reciprocate in the future by bringing you into their next deal.
As you can see, there are several ways to “win” even when a lead does not convert to a customer. The overall key is to record valuable data at each stage of the process to enhance your company’s conversion rate. Following these principles will allow you turn “no” into valuable data for your company!